31 January, 2007

X marks the spot in The Departed

Miami Herald:

"The Departed was also my favorite movie of 2006, in part because Scorsese seemed to be having fun again. For example, as an homage to Howard Hawks' classic 1932 Scarface, Scorsese scattered Xs throughout the movie (some more subtle than others), using them as a symbol of impending doom."

Something to check out only if you've seen the film. Please tell me no-one else spotted this as I was feeling bad about my lack of observation skills before but the examples look so fracking obvious now they've been pointed out.

Working Title Films interview

Los Angeles Times:

"In England, there's not really a movie business, so you have to be pretty proactive in terms of going out and finding [material], looking for ideas."

Also see Danny's post on this Working Title opportunity.

30 January, 2007

James Moran, "Severence", interview

Penny Blood:

"I thought, for my first film, I want to do something quickly, and I thought, well, I know horror inside out, so it'll be easy. Famous last bloody words!"

Horror's coming home

The Guardian:

"Forget all those US prairies and remote motels - scary movies are returning to their European roots"

29 January, 2007

Micheál Jacob, "Thieves Like Us", interview


Following its excellent debut last week, I asked the BBC's Micheál Jacob, who is Creative Head, Mainstream Comedy, some questions about Danny King's Thieves Like Us.

Robin: What were the main issues with adapting it from the book?

Micheál: The main issues were ruling out domestic/threatening burglaries (addressed in the alarm episode as a sort of manifesto when Ollie says they don't do houses), and striking a balance between character and plot. What works in a book doesn't necessarily work in a script, and as we edited the series, it tended to be the banter which disappeared in service of the plot. Banter works best when something is going on, my new mantra!

Robin: Do you mean make sure the characters are doing something while bantering, that there is 'business'?

I mean funny chat while the plot is moving forward rather than funny chat with business - though business is essential too. It's all about keeping up forward momentum rather than taking a breather for some banter. Writers and producers tend to fall in love with characters and allow them more leeway than an audience which wants to find out what happens next.

Robin: Did the characters have to change, as it changed genre, to try and get more conflicts and gags - for instance - or were they fine as they were?

Micheál: The characters changed to an extent between book and screen, partly because of thoughts Pete (Thornton, producer) and I had, partly because of writing for a cast. Belinda, for example (Bell End'er) in the book is always up for it. To create a quartet of characters at the centre of the show, she couldn't be that if we were to believe that she and Ollie were a proper item.

Robin: How long did Danny take to write the whole series?

Micheál: Since he has worked as a journalist, Danny is a very quick writer, so it took him around a fortnight to write each first draft, and rewrites came in overnight, which enabled us to do a number of drafts of each script after working through several drafts of initial storylines. The time-scale was that the pilot script was commissioned in July 2005, it was pitched in December 2005, commissioned in February last year, and storylines written in two sets of three, followed by scripts, allowing a month to achieve a first draft. We started shooting in October, since we needed dark nights.

Mirroring the Smoking Room process, we gave Danny a writing schedule, to which he adhered admirably. In the end, we had eight stories to consider, and went with the six which form the series.

Robin: I thought the film rights were sold, doesn't that affect a TV comedy adaptation?

Micheál: Rights aren't sold in perpetuity - there's always a period where they revert to the (in this case) author, so that wasn't a problem.

Robin: How was the show commissioned? Did Danny adapt the book himself on spec or was he asked to by the Beeb?

Micheál: The show came about due to one of our occasional exercises of getting everyone to come to a meeting with a comic novel. Both my old boss Sophie, and Peter Thornton, arrived with The Burglar Diaries. I took over the project, and the first thought was to get someone else to do the adaptation. But Danny's agent said he'd love to be considered, and sent me some sample movie scenes he had written, which convinced me that he should write the show himself.

The show was commissioned on the basis of a read-through, although for various reasons none of the four leads at the read appear in the show. We made it quite physical, having recruited a 'physical' director.

Robin: Was the series planned with an overall story arc?

Micheál: The series wasn't planned with an arc, because it's preferable to have transmission flexibility. If an episode works less well (ahem), then being able to schedule it later in the run is preferable to being stuck with an order.

Thieves Like Us, BBC3

Monday, 8:30pm
Tuesday, 10:30pm
Saturday, 12:20am
and online at the official website

Hot Fuzz - Live Web Chat


29 January, 6:00pm-7:00pm

28 January, 2007

Screenwriter - Hero of Action

Nina Jacobson, ex-Walt Disney president interview

Hollywood Futures:

"In this interview, Nina Jacobson talks about how to become a successful screenwriter in Hollywood. How do you find a literary agent? How do you get your script in front of the studios? These questions and more are answered by one of the most powerful women in the entertainment industry."

Talent to Spare

A gifted writer allows this one peek into his process. Reminds me of myself. (1.5 minutes)

26 January, 2007

Opening Weekend

Blood Diamond


With: Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, David Harewood

Writer: Charles Leavitt
Director:Edward Zwick

Charles Leavitt interview

Official site


_________________________________

Bobby


With: Harry Belafonte, Joy Bryant, Nick Cannon, Emilio Estevez, Laurence Fishburne, Brian Geraghty, Heather Graham, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, Joshua Jackson, Ashton Kutcher, Shia LaBeouf, Lindsay Lohan, William H. Macy, Svetlana Metkina, Demi Moore, Freddy Rodríguez, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Sharon Stone, Elijah Wood, David Krumholtz

Writer: Emilio Estevez
Director: Emilio Estevez

Emilio Estevez Interview 1
Emilio Estevez Interview 2
Emilio Estevez Interview 3 (video)
Emilio Estevez Interview 4 (mp3)

Official site
_________________________________

The Fountain


With: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis

Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky interview 1
Darren Aronofsky interview 2
Darren Aronofsky interview 3
Darren Aronofsky interview 4
Darren Aronofsky interview 5
Darren Aronofsky interview 6

Official site
Official site (flash)
_________________________________

Old Joy


With: Daniel London, Will Oldham, Tanya Smith, Robin Rosenberg, Keri Moran

Writer: Jonathan Raymond, Kelly Reichardt
Director: Kelly Reichardt

Kelly Reichardt interview 1
Kelly Reichardt interview 2
Kelly Reichardt interview 3

Official site
_________________________________

The Lives of the Saints


With: James Cosmo, Gillian Kearney, Emma Pierson, Bronson Webb

Writer: Tony Grisoni
Director Chris Cottam & Rankin

Tony Grisoni interview

Production report

Official site
_________________________________

Salaam E Ishq: A Tribute to Love


With: Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla

Writer: Suresh Nair
Director: Nikhil Advani


Nikhil Advani interview


Official site

_________________________________

Suburban Mayhem


With: Emily Barclay, Michael Dorman, Robert Morgan, Anthony Hayes

Writer: Alice Bell
Director: Paul Goldman

Alice Bell interview 1 (video)
Alice Bell interview 2


Production notes


Official site
_________________________________

Them (Ils)


With: Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen

Writers: David Moreau & Xavier Palud
Directors: David Moreau & Xavier Palud


David Moreau & Xavier Palud interview 1 (en Français)

David Moreau & Xavier Palud interview 2 (en Français)

Official site
_________________________________

Venus


With: Peter O'Toole, Leslie Phillips, Beatrice Savoretti, Philip Fox, Lolita Chakrabarti

Writer: Hanif Kureishi
Director: Roger Michell

Hanif Kureishi interview 1
Hanif Kureishi interview 2
Hanif Kureishi interview 3
Hanif Kureishi interview 4 (mp3)
Hanif Kureishi interview 5 (mp3, part of radio programme)

Official site

Word of Mouth

Babel


It’s been said that a sign of a good movie is how much you think about it after you leave the movie theatre. Well, I thought about Babel a lot. But that was less to do with the themes and more to do with the melancholic mood. Actually, I even dreamed an alternative ending - not that there’s anything wrong with the ending.

Babel, I suppose, is about childrens' place in society and how increasingly they are not allowed to be just children. It’s also about fear of the other and of course language and communication. It’s not polemical as such and it does leave a lot to be interpreted. Some have interpreted it as anti-American and anti-European but I didn't see it myself.

Arriaga carefully crafts a compelling story but I’m not one of those who automatically confers genius status on any film with multiple storylines and an unusual time-frame. Arriaga however has probably earned the title properly with his trilogy.

Box Office #7

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Black Book (Zwartboek)



Black Book (oh, I’ve just realised where the title of the film comes from - any slower and I’d be an Aston Villa striker) is a brilliant movie. Surprise is a difficult thing to do because it means anticipating the audience reaction and doing something different. Sometimes we don’t know enough about story or seen enough stories to know that the story we have thought of is too familiar and obvious and unlikely to surprise.

In this film when you think you know what to expect, something else happens. A lot of that is down to characters who are believable and make natural choices for themselves rather than what is required for plot purposes. There is one unexpected romance in the film for instance but it makes sense and is psychologically true.

Although it holds up very well with the twists and turns, there is one plot hole where Ellis gets some information useful to the resistance but doesn’t pass it on. As a writer I know why she couldn’t in terms of keeping the plot together but as a movie-goer I was disappointed. There is also one moment of unlikely character behaviour when a man chases an assassin through a crowded square. Why? In hindsight it was the right thing to do but at the time the man had no way of knowing that and would have thought the assassin was doing him a favour.

Despite those moments this is highly recommended.

Box Office #14


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The Last King of Scotland



Nicholas Garrigan, the main character here, is loosely based on Bob Astles’ life. I think comparing the fictional with the factual counterpart reveals a lot on how to make compelling characters and drama out of reality.

Making the character a doctor instead of ex-soldier, gives us so much, both in terms of character development and in terms of plotting. Making him Scottish and not English gives an easy connection to the Scotophile psycho, Idi Amin. Making him single and not married, young and not old makes him horny and naïve which in terms of the story has potentially very dramatic possibilities.

What the original author and screenwriters have done can be done by any of us. Not necessarily a biography of a real person (Peter Morgan’s monopolised that particular avenue, even having an hand in this) but being inspired by a real life person or incident to create our own stories.

It was fascinating watching Garrigan's character arc as he becomes best buds with Amin and gets seduced by power and how he deals with it. Having a white person the audience can identify with to help guide them through the third world is a legitimate tool in the toolbox as, let's face it, not enough people would see the film if it was a black doctor in the same position, but Garrigan is a three-dimensional character and not the typical hero saving Africa.

The dickhead dictator is also shown as a real human being - as he was. Amin shows hints of what was to come very early on which is chilling, but all the way along you understand why he does things. He's not a monster, he's human.

As a film it is very well made with a multi-award winning performance from Whittaker.

Box Office #4

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The Pursuit of Happyness




This is a brilliant film that you may find inspirational or, if you are particularly cynical, may find yourself reaching for the sick bag. But they have done a lot to reduce the risks of the latter occurring.

This tale of a man whose marriage falls apart under financial pressures and his struggle to bring up his son and become a success is packed with emotion but is devoid of sentimentality, which is amazing considering what happens. It’s based on a true story and is grounded in reality. The father feels like a flawed real person who gets pissed off and angry like the rest of us, but is able to focus on his goal and self-belief.

Box Office #1

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The Return



I had low expectations of this but it easily exceeded them. This supernatural mystery creates a good atmosphere and it was resolved satisfactorily enough in the end, although I feared it wouldn't be.

It’s fine having something supernatural happen but it needs to be explained. I’m not saying it has to be a scientific explanation and explained in depth. I’m perfectly prepared to believe Joanna is haunted by something and it creates some nice visuals and mood but I needed to know why it was happening to her.

It has great use of locations and I liked its spare, simple, stripped down style.

Box Office #12

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Rocky Balboa



I’ve always rated Sylvester Stallone as a screenwriter but because he had a working class accent it was assumed he was thick which really bugged me. Thankfully Rocky Balboa doesn’t change my opinion of him as a screenwriter.

The idea of bringing Rocky back did seem about as pointless as getting Mike Tyson a subscription to Ms magazine but in the end it was convincingly done and topical.

It addresses the problems in boxing today and cleverly uses the hypothetical debates matching up boxers from different eras to set up a possibility of Rocky making a comeback.

Rocky is still mourning Adrian and can’t move on. While this could be overly-sentimental, Stallone cleverly undermines it by conflict. Paulie keeps telling him to get over it.

The theme is self-respect and you can see how it plays out in the main story and the sub-plots. There's this quote from a Stallone interview: "So Dixon in the movie, his trainer says, until a man, and this means a woman too, has been through a real baptism by fire, when you are scared, when you are hanging on, when someone’s hurting you, then you are going to see what you are really made of and then you are going to get the only kind of respect in the world that matters, it’s self respect."

I think that is something we need to remember in general: that we have to put our characters through it, no matter how much we like them, as that is how their character is revealed.

Due to the later Rocky films, I was a bit worried but within the first ten minutes I felt assured I was in the safe hands of someone who can write and who can direct.

Box Office #1

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Smokin' Aces



I’m a fan of Narc, Joe Carnahan’s previous film but I hated this. It’s the worse film I’ve seen for a while, although to be fair I did have higher expectations, partly because of the awesome cast he managed to put together.

Putting it simply Smokin’ Aces is about lots of characters you don’t care about killing each other. That would be acceptable perhaps as there is an audience out there for that sort of thing, but the plot is over-complicated, stupid and insulting. At one point most people are dead and we think we can finally go to the pub, but no, they spend ages explaining the twist, when I was beyond caring. Audiences like twists, sure, but not stupid twists which don’t make any sense.

Carnahan is technically proficient and the action and dialogue will ensure positive word of mouth with undemanding kids but it felt like a wasted opportunity as the problems were easily fixed in the screenplay.

Having lots of characters of equal importance is a newbie mistake because you don't have time to get the audience to care what happens to them. The film starts with introductions of who all the characters are and what was going on which was the first warning sign of a bad movie as rather then help me follow the plot I just got more bored and confused. I've just realised that Babel also has lots of characters but that was brilliant. The difference is perhaps that Babel was three short films loosely connected while Smokin' Aces was servicing a single story.

Box Office #3

25 January, 2007

Gwyneth Hughes, "5 Days" , interview

The Writer's Guild of Great Britain:

"I don’t plot it out at all. I’m not sure how unusual that is but I do very little storylining. I have an idea about the story and an almost musical sense of what key it’s in and what the emotional temperature will be."

23 January, 2007

Why haven't I made it yet?

Screenwriting & Script Reading:
Guest Post: Adrian Mead


"There it is. That question.

Of course everyone will have their own particular response and I don't profess to have all the answers...but I do have a few theories and a personal mantra."

Oscar Nominations



I decided not to do my best films of 2006 list as it would have taken me ages to decide but the number one was pretty obvious, Little Miss Sunshine. As I said last year, comedies don't stand a chance of winning best picture even though they are harder to write than drama. I hope it being a comedy-drama might fool voters but if any of the others win instead I wouldn't be complaining.

I'm making an assumption about Letters from Iwo Jima being good, as I haven't seen it, but not much of one if people think it's even better than Flags of our Fathers.

Little Miss Sunshine might get the best screenplay award instead but, again, there's nothing wrong with the other nominations.

Also I'm very pleased about Little Children getting a nomination for adaptation considering how the brilliantly used narration was questioned. But I would probably prefer Children of Men to get it, which can consider itself unlucky to not get a nomination for best picture.

Happy Feet should win for animation but it's nice to see Monster House recognised, which was very well written.

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PICTURE


"Babel" Steve Golin, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik, producers; Anonymous Content Production/Una Producción De Zeta Film/Central Films Production; Paramount Pictures/Paramount Vantage (Paramount Vantage)
"The Departed" Brad Grey, Graham King, Brad Pitt, Martin Scorsese, producers; Vertigo Entertainment/Plan B Entertainment/Warner Bros. Pictures (Warner Bros.)
"Little Miss Sunshine" Albert Berger, David T. Friendly, producers; Big Beach/Bonafide Productions (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
"Letters from Iwo Jima" Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg, producers; Malpaso Productions (Warner Bros.)
"The Queen" Andy Harries, Christine Langan, Tracey Seaward, producers; A Granada production (Miramax)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

"Babel"
Guillermo Arriaga
"Letters from Iwo Jima" Iris Yamashita, Paul Haggis
"Little Miss Sunshine" Michael Arndt
"Pan's Labyrinth" Guillermo del Toro
"The Queen" Peter Morgan

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

"Borat" Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer, Todd Phillips
"Children of Men" David Arata, Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Fergus, Timothy J. Sexton, Hawk Ostby
"The Departed" Wiliam Monahan
"Little Children" Todd Field, Tom Perrotta
"Notes on a Scandal" Patrick Marber

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children"
Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"
Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"
Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed"

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Adriana Barraza, "Babel"
Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"
Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children"
Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"
Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"
Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed"

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Adriana Barraza, "Babel"
Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"
Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"

DIRECTOR

Clint Eastwood, "Letters from Iwo Jima"
Stephen Frears, "The Queen"
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"
Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"
Paul Greengrass, "United 93"

ANIMATED FEATURE

"Cars" John Lasseter, Joe Ranft (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studio; Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)
"Happy Feet" George Miller (Kingdom Pictures, LLC; Warner Bros. Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures)
"Monster House" Gil Kenan (Columbia Pictures; Sony Pictures Releasing)

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

"After the Wedding" Zentropa Entertainments; IFC (Denmark)
"Days of Glory" Tessalit Productions; The Weinstein Co. (Algeria)
"The Lives of Others" Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion; Sony Pictures Classics (Germany)
"Pan's Labyrinth" Estudios Picasso/Tequila Gang/Esperanto; Picturehouse (Mexico)
"Water" Téléfilm Canada/Noble Nomad Pictures Ltd.; Fox Searchlight (Canada)

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

"The Blood of Yingzhou District" Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon; A Thomas Lennon Films Production
"Recycled Life" Leslie Iwerks and Mike Glad; An Iwerks/Glad Production
"Rehearsing a Dream" Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon; A Simon & Goodman Picture Company Production
"Two Hands" Nathaniel Kahn and Susan Rose Behr; A Crazy Boat Pictures Production

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

"The Danish Poet" Torill Kove; A Mikrofilm and National Film Board of Canada Production(National Film Board of Canada)
"Lifted" Gary Rydstrom; A Pixar Animation Studios Production (Buena Vista)
"The Little Matchgirl" Roger Allers and Don Hahn; A Walt Disney Pictures Production (Buena Vista)
"Maestro" Geza M. Toth; A Kedd Production (Szimplafilm)
"No Time for Nuts" Chris Renaud and Michael Thurmeier; A Blue Sky Studios Production(20th Century Fox)

LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM

"Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)" Javier Fesser and Luis Manso; A Peliculas Pendelton and Tus Ojos Production
"Éramos Pocos (One Too Many)" Borja Cobeaga; An Altube Filmeak Production (Kimuak)
"Helmer & Son" Soren Pilmark and Kim Magnusson; A Nordisk Film Production
"The Saviour" Peter Templeman and Stuart Parkyn; An Australian Film Television and Radio School Production (Australian Film Television and Radio School)
"West Bank Story" Ari Sandel; An Ari Sandel, Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ravi Malhotra and Ashley Jordan Production

22 January, 2007

Joel Surnow, "24", interview


The Guardian:
"This time we thought, let's play the projected nightmare - and to its full extent. And that is that the War on Terror is here, in America, it has landed. Now what are we gonna do? And all the questions that you see talked about by the pundits on TV - let's just bring that into the White House, put those conversations in people's mouths."

Sending out your ideas


By Adrian Mead, Mead-Kerr:

"I just had a call from an aspiring writer. It transpired that he had sent me a script and "I hadn't bothered to get back to him." As you may have guessed this guy was really pissed off as this was just one of a long list of rejections and non responses he had suffered. Perhaps because he was an Eastern European rather than an apologist Brit he was saying exactly what he thought. - "The least people could do is have the manners to say no thanks!"

You hear this a lot from new writers. The truth is that in the vast majority of cases the writers are to blame.

Whooaaah, now, before you punch the screen in fury or start hunting me down on google or imdb please consider the following.

I had no prior contact with this guy.

He didn't call or e mail to ask me before he sent it, so he had no idea if I had the time to read his script.

I wasn't expecting and looking out for a script. The end result was that it had most likely ended up being filtered into the junk mail. I told him this and got him to send it again. Sure enough it went to junk mail and his "whacky" e mail address meant that it LOOKED like junk, which explains why I never spotted it first time round. And guess what...I found half a dozen other unsolicited pieces from writers in the junk mail.

If you want to avoid getting pissed off and start getting results you need to have a strategy for approaching busy professionals.

1) Contact them first with a VERY BRIEF e mail (one very short paragraph) introducing yourself and asking if they are looking for scripts.
Supply a FANTASTIC log line in the body of the e mail.

Give them a reason to WANT to look at your work with a VERY, VERY BRIEF decription of your achievements.

Ask them what they would like - a one page, a treatment, a script?

2) If they agree to look at your work you need to have the approprate PACKAGE organised.

There are a number of different packages to use when approaching the industry with your ideas. I have used the following to secure development deals and these are what I would expect from writers approaching us.

A FANTASTIC 1 PAGE PITCH DOC

This is now the most commonly requested document.

It quickly reveals if your idea appeals to them or not.

The theory is that if you can't write a good one page doc you can't write a script. So you better make sure your one page docs are polished to perfection.

If they like this they may ask to see more. You have a number of PACKAGE options.

FILM -
A fantastic 1 page pitch doc
An outline or treatment.

The ideal scenario is that you get paid to develop the treatment into a script. The reality is that as a new writer you will probably need to have written the script already.

TV -
A fantastic 1 page pitch doc
A detailed treatment of 2 page episode outlines. Very short character biographies.
Some sample scenes to illustrate the tone of the series and your talent

This is one of the most common forms of follow up package. The ideal scenario is that you get paid to develop the treatment into a script. The reality is that as a new writer you will probably need to have written the script already.

If they request the TV series script you should send:

A fantastic 1 page pitch doc.
The first episode written in full script form. Very short (eighth of a page each) synopses for all the other episodes. Very short character biographies.

Having a full script as part of the package is great as it really gives the flavour of the piece but means doing a lot of work for no money. However, even if it doesn't get optioned this will serve as a good WRITING SAMPLE for a new writer and may secure you work writing on other peoples shows or a commission to develop a producers idea into a script.

ALWAYS follow up any document with attachments immediately with an e mail asking them to keep an eye out for it. Don't end up in the junk mail.

It is essential that you hone ALL of these documents to perfection. The number one reason that most new writers fail is not a lack of talent. It is a lack of understanding of what is expected of them and their work if they are to make it as professional screenwriters.

Of course there will be the people who never reply just because they are too busy to do so or don't like your logline in your first e mail. That's par for the course but if you don't get your approach right you might well be missing your breakthrough chance simply because your script is sitting in a junk mail folder.

I know it's frustrating when you seem to be trying hard and going nowhere fast. If you would like more practical tips about getting your break I'm happy to send you some handouts from the class we are now prepping for March. Just contact us at info*AT*meadkerr.com "

21 January, 2007

24



The sixth season starts tonight on Sky with a double-bill. I have to say that I honestly did not see this reaching six seasons. But each season they manage to vary the formula enough to keep it fresh but with the familiar structure we enjoy in place.

Each season they have to raise the stakes but with season 6 they are raised as high as they can go and so I'm guessing this must be the last season. I believe they intend to go out with a bang or two.

As Good Dog mentions, 24 is reknowned for its torture scenes. Last season I got into a debate about them on a blog and I said that in 24 it isn't real-life and I enjoyed the vicarious thrill of Jack doing to bad guys what I would like to do to bad guys - if I only had the courage and opportunity. That's what heroes are for.

However in real life there were revelations about torture being secretly used in the "war on terror" and, considering that torture doesn't work nearly as well in real life as it does in fiction, it did make you think. In fact it made me think that maybe, just possibly, Jack was a tosser and not a hero. But the debate on that blog was clearly going on elsewhere, including in the 24 writers' room.

Jack comes back from China more vulnerable as a result of spending months getting a taste of his own medicine by the Chinese. He is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep the likes of you and me safe. How can Jack be anything but a hero?

View the trailer

Watch the proper official season 6 prequel

Read the producer's blog (US pace)

Official site (US pace)

Wikipedia

A musical tribute to Jack that's just so wrong and yet so funny

Top humour columnist Dave Barry commentates on each episode (US pace)

24fans.net - fans website (US pace)

24 Headquarters - fans blog (US pace)

Official fan club (buy scripts, etc)

24 Bingo - print off your cards now!

(US pace- they are showing episode 5 on Monday night)

Sky One, Sunday, 9:00pm

Fade In

Johnny Tsai's short about a screenwriter suffering from writer's block who finds help through his agent. (3 Minutes)

Screen Storytelling

Writer-director Gerald Everett Jones discusses why flashback and narration are used and how to avoid them. Excerpt from Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC) seminar at The Writers Store in Los Angeles. (3 minutes)

Soundtrack

Check out the artists who will be on the soundtrack to my movies.


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Émilie Simon


"In 2006, Émilie Simon released her third album, Végetal, in which she uses the sounds of plants; as hinted by the name, in which the lyrics play with words, always with relation to flora. In this album she also shows being capable of producing a more "rocky" style of music. This comes foreward in some of the more lively tracks, such as "Fleurs de Saison",in which she uses her electric guitar. The sound remains nonetheless that of electronic music and is still just as sought after. Her voice maintains its candor and softness."

Wikipedia
Myspace


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CSS


At the beginning of 2006, Cansei de Ser Sexy signed with Sub Pop to release their international self-titled debut album. The first single, released in June 6, was the discopunk "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death From Above". It was top ten in the NME best tracks of the year and pre-loaded into Zune. They are about to tour to promote their new album and, although I've seen them live before, I have to see them again.

Wikipedia
Myspace


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20 January, 2007

The Second Screenwriters' Festival 2007


The Second Screenwriters' Festival 2007 will be from Tuesday 3 to Friday 6 July 2007 and as with last year we’ll be at The Manor by the Lake (at Cheltenham Film Studios)

ScriptMARKET@SWF'07 - This year we are having a speculative script market that we will be running up to and throughout the festival where you can send us a spec script, get a comprehensive report on it's prospects after which we will get it into the hands of people who can make deals.

Speakers 2007 - So far we have managed to get some amazing names including Diana Ossana 'Brokeback Mountain', Michael Goldenberg 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' and Anthony Horowitz 'Stormbreaker', interested in speaking this year, some are schedule dependant, and there many more to come.

Programme - We have listened to your thoughts and views on last years Festival and are putting together a programme that will not only be filled with panels and Q&A's, we'll have more screenings, live commentaries, workshops, masterclasses and more chances for you to talk to other writers, producers, agents and developers.


Visit the website for full details.

19 January, 2007

Opening Weekend

Babel


Thriller. Tragedy strikes a couple in Morocco which sets off four connected stories

With: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Mohamed Akhzam, Peter Wight, Harriet Walter, Trevor Martin, Matyelok Gibbs

Writer: Guillermo Arriaga
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Guillermo Arriaga interview

Official site
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Black Book (Zwartboek)

War thriller. Jews try to escape occupied Holland.

With: Carice van Houten, Sebastian Koch, Thom Hoffman, Halina Reijn, Waldemar Kobus, Derek de Lint

Writers: Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven
Director: Paul Verhoeven

Paul Verhoeven interview 1
Paul Verhoeven interview 2
Paul Verhoeven interview 3
Paul Verhoeven interview 4

Official site

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Infamous

Drama. While researching his book In Cold Blood, writer Truman Capote develops a close relationship with convicted murderers.

With: Toby Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Daniel Craig, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hope Davis, Sandra Bullock, Isabella Rossellini, Peter Bogdanovich, Jeff Daniels, Lee Pace

Writer: Douglas McGrath (from the book by George Plimpton)
Director: Douglas McGrath

Douglas McGrath interview 1
Douglas McGrath interview 2
Douglas McGrath interview 3
Douglas McGrath interview 4 (video)

Official site

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Play

Romantic drama. A couple search for love but never quite seem to meet

With: Viviana Herrera, Andres Ulloa, Aline Küppenheim, Coca Guazzini, Jorge Alis

Writer: Alicia Scherson
Director: Alicia Scherson

Alicia Scherson interview 1
Alicia Scherson interview 2
Alicia Scherson interview 3 (mp3)

Official site

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The Return

A woman who has nightmares of a murder is drawn to where the murder took place.

With: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sam Shepard

Writer: Adam Sussman
Director: Asif Kapadia

Official site

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Rocky Balboa

Sports drama. A boxer comes out of retirement to fight the current champion.

With: Sylvester Stallone, Milo Ventimiglia, Geraldine Hughes, James Francis Kelly III

Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Director: Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone interview 1
Sylvester Stallone interview 2
Sylvester Stallone interview 3
Sylvester Stallone interview 4
Sylvester Stallone interview 5

Official site

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18 January, 2007

Overnights

Lilies




Written by Heidi Thomas


This was excellent and enjoyable drama. It had believable characters, story and dialogue.

What I noticed was that she had a number of stories but they were all connected in some way: the swimming trials, delivery office, corset business, pianola, white feather. Billy gets another white feather at the swimming, the boss at the delivery office ends up buying a corset. What could have seemed contrived and complicated was simple and seamless.

It was Ruby and Billy's episode primarily. We were introduced to the family and the world through Ruby very simply, in terms of information giving. For instance we know Walter was killed during the war not by her saying "Oh, I still miss Walter who was killed in the war, curse that wretched war for taking him and so many of our young men across the country away from us" but in an argument when Rose says he's not coming back to claim the job so she should be able to keep it.

We know the mother's dead not by someone saying "Oh, I still miss Mother dearest, who has died and is now in heaven with the angels and is watching over us," but in conflict because they need the pianola but it was hocked to pay for the mother's funeral. Dadda doesn't say anything about his grief over his wife's death he just refuses to let anyone use her parlour which speaks volumes. It gives just enough room for the audience to think and make connections themselves.

The other sisters, Iris and May, had less to do but we know enough about them - Iris (mature, subsitute mother) and May (independent, takes risks). And the same for Dadda. He is unsympathic towards his son's post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But we still like him because we know that PTSD wasn't to be recognised properly for another 50 years. He's a man of his time.

The between-the-wars period feels authentic because of things like that and also because of subtle things like the Olympic athletes smoking and eating fast food.

Each character has dreams and aspirations and problems to overcome. They've started on journeys that are unlikely to be finished by the end of the series. That only happens if you spend a bit of time creating complex characters.

BBC1, Fridays, 9:00pm


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After You’ve Gone



Written by Fred Barron

Primetime 8:30pm sitcom on BBC1? I admit my expectations were very low which is probably why I enjoyed it. It's strange because I didn't laugh much but I admired the set-up and the attempts to be funny.

This is by the creator of My Family. What was good about My Family was that you had a simple set-up that was familiar. It's a family. You have a mom and dad story, a younger kids story and a wacky older kid story.

It quickly became Europe's most popular spec sitcom script (to try and get work on established sitcoms) because it was so simple. If you failed with it then it was to do with you and not the show. It is perhaps much easier to create comedy out of a more high-concept show, about aliens for example. Though I'm not sure. I've been debating that one in my head.

Anyway, Barron's new sitcom has the same simple qualities. It is about a family but is similar to My Family only in that he has the same wacky older son character. Otherwise it has a bit more depth in that the father has avoided responsibility, and is in recovery with AA. As TV scribe Marc Pierson pointed out to me "this 'serious' aspect of the set-up gives the chance for some emotional big stories."

I noticed that Barron made the children younger as that was definitely a problem with My Family where they grew up too fast. If you're negative you can imagine your sitcom won't ever be commissioned but thinking more positively you can try and future proof the concept, just in case.

While After You've Gone isn't massively original in concept, it is relatable, as most of us have families and understand the parent/child conflicts. We might not all have direct experience of the mother-in-law/son-in-law conflict but we've all heard the hack jokes and buy into it easily and quickly. Barron's added another level of conflict, to do with class, between the ex-husband and the ex-mother-in-law to help with creating gags.

So while I like the set-up, just as I liked the My Family set-up, it's down to how the individual episodes are written as to whether I'll enjoy it.

BBC1, Fridays, 8:30pm

TV Scriptwriting One Day Workshop - New Guests Announced


De Montfort University have now confirmed the following three additional
guests at their forthcoming Television Scriptwriting workshop:

Justin Sbresni, Co-writer, co-producer and co-director of ‘The Worst
Week of My Life’ / ‘The Worst Christmas of My Life’ series (BBC) and ‘Barbara’
(ITV)

Micheal Jacob, Creative Head, Mainstream Comedy, BBC

Mervyn Watson, Executive Producer, Drama Series, BBC

They will be joining Lizzie Mickery (Messiah and The State Within), Paul Ashton (BBC Writersroom), Frances Arnold (Rochelle Stevens & Co, agents) and others for this popular event.

Please see below for further details. Don’t miss out, if you have not already done so, book your place today! Call 0116 250 6470

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Getting it written; Getting it read; Getting ahead; A way forward for writers.

De Montfort University is delighted to announce the above mentioned one day workshop designed for budding television scriptwriters of all levels. Whether you are just embarking on your script writing career, or if you already have some experience, this event is sure to help you take those next steps and offers invaluable networking opportunities with industry professionals.

Renowned course leaders from De Montfort University’s unique MA in Television Scriptwriting will be join the special guests.

The day will feature guest speakers with expertise in sitcom and television drama together with interactive question and answer panels allowing you to seek advice from and hear the experiences of those already successful within the industry.

The event will take place at De Montfort University’s city centre campus in
Leicester on Saturday 17 February 2007. Places cost just £60 each including refreshments, lunch and car parking. For further information or to book your place please contact me by email or by calling 0116 250 6470.

Bookings must be received by Friday 2 February. Confirmation, a full itinerary and map will be sent to you on receipt of payment.

In the meantime, should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me as above or click the following link to visit our website De Montfort University - TVS Workshop 2007

Kind Regards
Hayley Durham,

Promotion & Recruitment Centre, Faculty of Humanities, De Montfort University, Leicester
Tel: 0116 250 6470 / Fax: 0116 257 7199

Email: hdurham*at*dmu.ac.uk

17 January, 2007

Why radio comedy is a joke


The Guardian:

"For more than half a century BBC radio has been to British comedy what a United Nations peacekeeping force is to a struggling post-civil war republic - it has nurtured, protected, fed and developed the scruffy, impoverished and argumentative inhabitants of this murky world. It has helped them on to better things and regularly stepped in to save them when it seems no one else cares."

16 January, 2007

Golden Globes winners

Congratulations to Peter Morgan, winning for his The Queen screenplay. Although typically BBC news mentioned all the Brit winners but ignored him.

Click the link above for Variety's report and full list of winners.

14 January, 2007

Scriptwriting on a Budget: Training

Light & Shade:

"As most of us are penny pinching at this time of year, I've put together a list of some of the more affordable options."

The Pitch

A nervous young screenwriter pitches a horror flick to an uninterested movie exec.

Screenwriting advice

UCLA screenwriting professor and author Hal Ackerman gives useful advice.

12 January, 2007

How to make it as a screenwriter: a free Euroscript Event

Everything you ever wanted to know about the industry but were too afraid to ask, come and meet top industry professionals in this free evening event to find out how to develop your career as a writer in film and television.

A panel made up of writers, directors and an industry lawyer will answer all your questions on how to make it as a screenplay writer. The event will be held at The Diorama Arts Centre, 3-7 Euston Centre , NW1 3JG on Thursday 8th February 2007 at 7pm-9pm (doors open at 6.30pm)

The Panel includes:

Paul Bassett Davies: twice Perrier Award finalist.

Charlie Harris: founder of the Screenwriters’ Workshop.

Fenella Greenfield: as a trustee of the Screenwriters' Workshop.

Jeremy Hylton Davies: an award-winning playwright

Anne Woods: a freelance script consultant and commissioned screenwriter.

Kevan Tidy: a specialist entertainment and intellectual property lawyer. He has worked as an in house lawyer for Scottish TV and for several of the top national law firms.

Please log on to: http://www.euroscript.co.uk ; call 0780 336 9414 or email enquiries@euroscript.co.uk for further details.

Participants must book a place by email to ensure entry.

New imported drama




Jericho

Currently American TV drama is having the best season for a long time. Partly it's because they are willing to take more risks and trust the writers. The commission of Jericho is one such risk that has paid off. It isn't a cops/docs/lawyers show but about a small town affected by a nuclear bomb that goes off in the nearby big city.

Some people couldn't see how that scenario could become a hit but I believed from the pilot it would do well, for at least a season, because it is relatable, especially in this fear-driven political climate.

It is a small town cut off from the world which increases the possible conflict amongst people who get on with each other normally but are forced to share resources when they might just want to think about themselves and their family. They are unsure what's happening in the world but relationships have to go on.

As well as that personal stuff going on there is also the wider mystery of what actually happened. What is it an accident? Is it terrorists? Was it another country bombing them? Did other bombs go off? Are other countries affected? What's that knowledgeable stranger in town got to hide? By the way that stranger is played by our own Lennie James, himself a good writer.

The first few episodes are well written and interesting but you get the sense the creators haven't quite worked everything out yet including where the ongoing conflict was going to come from without it seeming repetitive but eventually new major conflicts are introduced and it goes up to 'quite good' on my scale instead of just 'OK'.

I recommend giving it a go.

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Intelligence

This Canadian drama is like a cross between The Sopranos and The Wire. A drugs kingpin is being secretly taped hoping that he can be caught ordering someone to be killed. The boss of the unit is hoping to leave for a better job in another agency and wants to take the best grasses with her. Her deputy has no qualms with breaking the law to catch villains.

The pilot is an enjoyable watch as it's a bit different and the dialogue is always very good but some of the plotting caused raised eyebrows. It's worth investigating.

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Two Twisted

I don't know this Aussie mystery drama but it looks interesting.

"Each episode of the series contains two short half-hour stories, that have a twist ending. Also present in each episode is a link or connection between the two tales.

Rather than draw on a pool of experienced writers the producers of the series issued a call to up and coming writers to submit screenplays."

Now that's a good idea.

Hallmark , Fridays from 8:00pm and Sundays from 9:00pm
(The Hallmark Channel is available on Sky digital at Channel 153, ntl:home at Channel 190 and Telewest at Channel 190)

'Queen' leads BAFTA contest

Variety:

""The Queen" leads the nominations for this year's British Academy Film Awards, but that's the most predictable aspect of a list that honors an unexpectedly rich and varied blend of British, American and international talent."

Golden Globes nominations

Opening Weekend

Ghosts
Drama. A young Chinese woman is smuggled into the UK so she can support her son and family in China.

With Ai Qin Lin

Writers: Nick Broomfield & Jez Lewis
Director: Nick Broomfield

Nick Broomfield interview 1
Nick Bromfield interview 2
Nick Broomfield article

Official site

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Guru
Romantic rags to riches drama.

With Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhavan, Vidya Balan

Writers: Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam
Directer: Mani Ratnam

Official site

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The Last King of Scotland
Drama. Evil dictator's life as seen by his doctor

With Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson, Simon McBurney, David Oyelowo

Writer: Jeremy Brock and Peter Morgan (based on Giles Foden's novel)
Director: Kevin Macdonald

Jeremy Brock audio interview

Official site

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The Pursuit of Happyness
Drama. A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he takes on a major new professsional role.

With Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Dan Castellaneta

Writer: Steve Conrad
Director: Gabriele Muccino

Steve Conrad audio interview

Official site

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Smokin' Aces
Crime action comedy. Baddies try to stop a snitch testyfying

With Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Peter Berg, Nestor Carbonell, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds .... Richard Messner

Writer: Joe Carnahan
Director: Joe Carnahan

Joe Carnahan interview 1
Joe Carnahan interview 2
Joe Carnahan interview 3

Official site

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11 January, 2007

WGA names its nominees

Variety:

"The Writers Guild of America has tapped the screenplays for "Babel," "Little Miss Sunshine," "The Queen," "Stranger Than Fiction" and "United 93" for its original screenplay award and "Borat," "The Departed," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Little Children" and "Thank You for Smoking" for the adapted award."

Word of Mouth

Apocalypto

Some of my fellow pinko liberals are boycotting this film because it’s written and directed by a fascist creep but I saw it. Not because Mel Gibson said ‘sorry’ for his racist rant, I didn’t believe the apology. No, because I can separate the person from the art. Wagner was another fascist creep but he wrote some groovy tunes.

Gibson’s original writer’s voice is clear here with the conscious main theme being ‘the importance of family’ and his sub-conscious sub-theme of ‘violence is good’. The film starts with a quote about how society is destroyed by those within before those without can destroy it. You can see that as an exhortation for us to defend our society against non-Christians or simply justification for what the Catholic invaders subsequently did. Or both.

All that said, this is a brilliant film and a must-see. The main characters are established with skill, speed and humour and although writers can guess the ending from the opening scene it’s still relatively surprising. Some terrible things happen to people we’ve grown to care about but Gibson doesn’t milk it or obviously manipulate.

The film moves very fast and people who hate subtitles can probably watch the film without bothering to read them and still understand what’s going on as the characters are archetypal (or stereotypical, depending on your point of view) and a lot is told visually. For those that think action films don’t need character motivation, imagine how dull that last chase sequence would be without that motivation being set up so beautifully.

Box office #3

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A Prairie Home Companion

Garrison Keillor’s radio show and gentle style of humour doesn’t appeal to everyone and gets some people violently riled up. I kind of like it though and have been a fan for years.

The problem with this film is almost everything outside of the radio show performance itself - especially the bizarre angel of death character who died while laughing at the show so much and crashing the car or something.

I understand the problem they were trying to fix in trying to give the film some kind of arc and theme as wittering on without a story is dull even when it’s legends like Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin doing the wittering on. But I would have preferred some compelling conflict that was reality based .

Box office #15

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Employee of the month

This is at times very funny but is let down by the over-familiar plot. That wouldn’t matter so much but with plot points like the ‘car sale’ incident it also stopped being real and therefore stopped being funny.

Also, traditionally the main character is a dick until he learns the lesson but I realise that there is a danger of making him too much of a dick so we don't care if he learns a lesson or not.

Box office #4

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Flags of our Fathers

As with Casino Royale, Paul Haggis comes to the re-writing rescue and inputs sufficient quality to get a film made. I suppose you can’t have too many reminders about the stupidity of war but, like most people apparently, this didn’t really appeal. It’s interesting how if the deaths were supernatural or in the horror genre then the youngsters would be queuing around the block but show horrific deaths in the context of war and telling us something about our historical past and they stay away. It’s understandable but I expect the film-makers were surprised so many adults also stayed away but in the current political climate a film about the raising the American flag isn’t going to be a priority.

However, this is still a brilliant film from start to finish. It has a nice structure where it flashes back to the war and switches between the famous raising of the flag on Iwo Jima and those same soldiers back home treated as heroes (although they don’t feel like heroes) as they promote war bonds

We know Clint Eastwood, the director, is right-wing but this is no jingoistic celebration but an authentic examination. Haggis said he just shot the script. The main theme is truth and it has similar deliberate echoes with the current war.

But while the theme and story is important it’s about the characters; rather than being a history lesson we are closer to what happened because they are feel real.

The follow up, Letters from Iwo Jima, tells the story from the Japanese point of view.

Box office #12

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It’s a Boy/Girl Thing

Considering there is nothing more predictable than the body swap romantic comedy, I think Geoff Deane has done very well. The critics slagged it off but word of mouth has kept it in cinemas as it’s entertaining and never too annoying.

To be honest I was going to slag it off without seeing it in my TV Guide as it opened on the same day Freaky Friday aired was I backed off as that would have been stupid.

I try to avoid reviewing reviews but in his review, Mark Kermode called it a Freaky Friday rip-off when body-swap comedies pre-existed that film and several years ago there were about five of them released in the same short period. Also most of Kermode’s review was based on the fact that David Furnish (Elton John’s partner) wrote it when he only produced it. He also condemned the casting of Sharon Osborne as she’s English and what would an Englishwoman be doing married to an American and living in America. Because that never happens. While that casting was bizarre on paper, on celluloid it works. The truly shite should always be pointed out but this isn’t.

To be less positive though, they get confused about the gender swap with one character saying things only a woman would say when he is still a man. Not all the gags work and there are fake moments but not enough to mess things up too bad as enough gags work and there is enough truth.

To say it’s undemanding and unambitious would be an understatement but it achieved what it set out to do for its target demo and that's what counts.

Box office #5
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Night at the Museum

This is a fun family film that manages to avoid too much sentimentality but still gets across themes like responsibility and learning is good. Although a couple of strange story choices at the beginning and at the end almost ruin it.

Larry is temping while he tries to get his business underway. His money troubles means he’s about to get evicted from his apartment and then his ex-wife says that because he keeps moving she’s going to stop him seeing their son. Rather than telling the cold-hearted cow to frack right off he takes a permanent job as a night-time security guard.

Yes, he did need some push to take the job but the mother’s threat and the kid saying something like, “you’re not going to move again are you, dad?” with tears in his eyes and his voice quivering was a bit unconvincing. It’s not as if he’s moving every week and the kid has stability for most of the week anyway. What he should have said to the kid was “Look, so what if I have to keep moving and can’t afford nice presents like your new step-dad, do you only care about goods and luxury living or do you care about being with me, you snotty little brat? I bet you’re not even my kid anyway.”

Anyway, once he’s in the job, the film works fine and is fast, funny and entertaining as Larry tries to escape from and deal with the exhibits. It is reminiscent of Jumanji but more inspired by it than a direct rip-off. I actually thought it was going to be a night at the museum and wondered how it was going to do a good story in just one night but it’s actually cleverly structured over a few nights with a surprise for the last act.

One of those weirder story choices involves the baddies being allowed to get away with it at the end which is outrageous but they were extraneous to the neat ending they had thought of. I’m sorry, but they should have spent a bit more time trying to think of another neat ending which can incorporate the baddies getting what they deserve.

Box office #1

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Miss Potter

This subtly feminist fable based on Beatrix Potter’s life is entertaining if slightly low-key.

The screenwriter sold the script to a production company but bought it back when he didn’t agree with the changes they wanted to make. He had to pay about an extra third to account for the prodco’s expenses.

This is a very good film for a biography. The period is recreated very well not just in costumes and scenery but also the attitudes and mores of the time. For instance Beatrix always had to have a chaperone with her even though she was a middle aged woman. If I have any doubts it is regarding the animation and Potter talking to her characters and calling them her friends - she comes across as more living with schizophrenia rather than sweet and lonely - which I suspect is the intention.

The screenwriter cut down on the amount of animation he initially wanted in the film because it would suggest it was a children’s film rather than an adult romance. But there were loads of kids in the screening I was at, bored out of their tiny tweeny minds. But word of mouth will ensure that those mothers will tell friends to get a babysitter and leave the kids at home.

Once you’ve seen it, check out this article on what liberties were taken with Potter’s life story.

Box office #2

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Perfume – A Story of a Murderer

This is a brilliant film and a must-see. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is sentenced to hang for a number of deaths and then we flash back to how this could have come about. We have sympathy for the character born into poverty and slavery but that turns to empathy as he begins his deadly quest. We may no longer like the character but we understand why he’s doing it and that makes the story fascinating. As an audience we connect our own particular obsession – whether its Take That as a teen or apple alcopops as an adult - and simply imagine it if taken to extremes. Which is what we need to do as writers.

My expectation, from the publicity, was of a film about a perfumier who begins killing but he doesn’t get that job for ages as we deal with his early life. While that is authentically re-created it perhaps could have been cut. But I would probably miss anything that was cut. Tom Tykwer, is one of my favourite writer-directors and I trust him to have made the right decision

Box office #9

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White Noise 2 – The Light

I tried to watch the first one on TV but EVP was just such a stupid idea that I gave up, although it was hugely popular amongst people wanting to believe that ghosts are trying to contact us that way. This film may be more of a cheapo cash-in than a proper sequel but it is much better.

My first impression was how tight and well constructed the screenplay was. There was the odd jarring contrivance but as maybe only screenwriters would spot them, there’re not worth mentioning really. The science isn’t gone into too deeply, fortunately, but it has just enough to set up the story. The important thing is the mystery of that first shocking incident and why it happens, and then the brilliant story turn later on. I actually said, “so he’s going to do that all film? Where’s the dilemma? Where’s the conflict?” but then we got the mother of all dilemmas and conflicts.

The dialogue and the actions of the characters felt true and made it easier to accept the fantasy as true. It’s no masterpiece but whether you believe it is fiction based on fact or fiction based on fiction it should keep you entertained.

Box office #7
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09 January, 2007

Paul Haggis interview

The Times:

"Hollywood’s hottest writer and director Paul Haggis tells how he and Clint Eastwood tackled the unfilmable — and won."

Lessons from the front line of film by Joe Eszterhas

The Times:

"Joe Eszterhas, the controversial writer behind the hugely lucrative Basic Instinct and the universally reviled Showgirls, reveals that there's no need to be smart or talented to make it big in Hollywood."